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November 25th, 2011

Do You Know This Book? Reply

Hi Nate--

Well, I couldn't think of what book that might be so I posted your question on my Live Journal page:

catching up on many old emails... One comes from a student who had worked with us at the Specola a few years ago. He writes:

"I had a question about a book you recommended to me quite some time ago while I was staying in Rome. It was after I finished reading Harry Potter. You indicated the book was similar in feel. I believe it had something to do about someone finding out they had magical powers? Traveling to a new city? Maybe something with a river boat? I have recently been thinking about it and wanted to finish it. Would you happen to remember the name so that I can pick up a copy?"

I am at a complete loss as to what book this might have been... does this sound anything like a book anyone here has ever heard of? If not, would you be interested in writing such a book for this poor guy? :)

I got a number of different replies and suggestions including:

Jack Chalkers, Dancing Gods. (I have never read it)
Philip Pullman's Dark Materials series (Not what I recommended, though I have read it. It's a page-turner, but rather creepy.)
The Magician by Lev Grossman (Never read it.)
Stravaganza: City of Stars (Never read it)
Don't Look Now by Daphne du Maurier (Never read it)
(added as edit -- I forgot to mention the suggestion of Bujold's Sharing Knife books, which do fit but weren't what I was thinking of)
Frances Hardinge's Fly by Night (Never read it, but from what my commenters said about it, I need to check it out!)
Diana Wynne Jones's Charmed Life (DING DING DING! Yes, this is the one, exactly!)

Note that many of my friends are themselves writers (hence my joke at the end of my query). The best reply came from papersky, whose books you really ought to try -- especially Among Others. She wrote:

Subject: Yet Another Story ID
There was a riverboat... a talking crow?
A magic teapot? Yes, I think I know
The book you mean, was there a looming threat
And prophecies of doom they can't forget?

Was there a morning when the river fog
Revealed the secret city, and a dog
barked at the crow, then at the water gate
Their magic didn't work -- they'd come too late!

It's funny how the details, not the plot
Stick in my mind, long after I've forgot
The reason for the crow, the dog, the goat
I still recall that moment on the boat.

As for the author... still, book three was called
The Dragon Prince Comes Back To Save Them All.

So congrats on inspiring a wonderful sonnet from one of my favorite poets... and for getting me a list of books I need to read, now, myself



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